Submission cover sheet
- Name of organisation or individual making this submission
- Authorised delegate/contact person
Questions on possible options
- Is a 2 December 2019 commencement date for the proposed Regulation and Amendment Act reasonable for industry participants to adjust to the changes? If not, why?
- Is a mid-2020 date appropriate for commencement of the new minimum standards for rental properties? If not, why?
- Are there other terms in the proposed Regulation that should be defined so that their meaning is clear?
There is a need to clarify further the definition of tenant obligations under Clause 17 of the act associated with minor alterations that allows tenants to perform a variety of operations to make the home more comfortable for their needs. Boundaries need to be set to the extent of minor alterations to each type of activity. What recourse is available to landlords to recover costs of repairs to make the property presentable where the extent of minor changes has been excessive. What is minor to one person is not to another.
- Does the new standard form of tenancy agreement clearly define the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants?
Again I would comment on Clause 17 of the proposed changes. I think aspects of the right of the tenant to make minor adjustments is way too vague and tenants who have loads of pictures etc could leave properties at the end of the tenancy with loads of unsightly rawl plugs in places which would not suit or detract from the appeal of the property to subsequent renters. Is there going to be any provision for renters who leave a property to have the walls professionally repaired and painted? Is there a maximum amount of hooks and fittings that can be put in any room? Does the owner have any right to claim on the rental bond where the amount of minor changes are excessive and unreasonable particularly in short term leases or where a lease has to be broken for some reason. Where a longer tenancy agreement is undertaken it may be more reasonable for the tenant to be allowed to hang hooks etc to make their house more like a home. This right should have limitations and those alterations needed for safety purposes should be discussed with the owner or their representative before a rental agreement is signed.
- Are there other ways that the standard form of tenancy agreement can be improved? If so, how?
As mentioned previously the proposed changes provide more freedoms for tenants without consideration of the right of landlords to protect their property from the excesses that some tenants engage in. While I agree fully with the need to provide tenants to set up items in their home that protect their safety I believe it is also their responsibility to pay for the costs of minor alterations that result damages that result in a reduced capacity to rent the property to future tenants. For example being allowed to fix security cameras to the external part of the house such as eaves and walls if not attached mechanically will be fixed with adhesive that may cause damage on removal. Would the tenants be responsible to remove the glue marks etc?
- Are there any other terms that should be prohibited from being included in a residential tenancy agreement?
- Do you agree that these terms should not be excluded or modified by a fixed term agreement of 20 years or more?
Minor alterations to properties with long leases that have been fulfilled should be more generous than those of short term leases. After this time it would be reasonable to expect the place would need at least minor renovations.
- Are there other terms in the Act that should not be excluded or modified in fixed term agreements of 20 years or more?
- Do you think that the proposed condition report is easy to use?
Except as mentioned previously the tenancy agreement changes seem reasonable. I disagree with the right of tenants changing batteries on Smoke Alarms. This job should be the responsibility of owners or their agents in the presence of the tenant to ensure it has been done correctly and regularly.
- Should any other features be included in the condition report to help accurately describe the condition of the premises?
I think that it is reasonable for agents or landlords should be allowed to photograph aspects of the property where wear and tear indicate the need for possible future repair or replacement. Tenants could be advised to remove personal items they dont want to have included in photos showing potential need for repair. This would help minimise disputes between tenants and landlords at the end of the agreements and allow landlords to better maintain the property for the tenant.
- For the material fact listed under clause 8(f), are there other instances where a landlord could become aware that the property has been used to manufacture drugs?
- Are the prescribed timeframes for disclosing each of the material facts listed under clause 8, still appropriate? If not, why?
- Are the proposed material facts listed under clause 8 too broad or too narrow? If yes, why?
I think more specific information should be passed on to tenants where it may materially influence their safety and the decision even to take up a rental agreement.
- Are there other types of material facts that a landlord or landlord’s agent should disclose to a prospective tenant?
Tenants should be made aware of other illegal activities conducted at a location that may have adverse impacts on the tenant. For example has the place been used as a brothel, where murder or other significant violence has occurred. These issues may attract acts of retribution from other unsavoury types who are unaware of changes in tenancy.
- Are clauses 9, 10 and 11 still appropriate? If so, why?
- Are there any other charges that should apply to social housing tenants?
- Are there other water efficiency measures that should be prescribed? If so, why?
- Is the newly drafted clause 13 appropriate? If not, why?
This is reasonable.
- Do the requirements appropriately balance tenant safety with administrative costs to landlords and agents? If not, why?
Not entirely. The changes appear to focus on providing benefits to tenants without providing protections for landlords for those who abuse these new provisions.
- Are there other circumstances where repairs to a smoke alarm should be carried out by a qualified professional? If so, why?
As stated previously I believe smoke alarms should be checked and maintained by the owner or their representative in the presence of the home owner and have them sign a document. Some tenants may not be able to correctly fit a battery, use a cheap battery, or break the smoke alarm in the process of changing batteries, (I have done this myself!).
- Are any of the smoke alarm repair requirements unclear? If so, why?
- How much notice should a tenant give a landlord to carry out repairs to a smoke alarm, given the need to repair it urgently?
Forty eight hours and they must make themselves available.
- Do you agree that the prescribed list of minor alterations is reasonable? If not, why?
No not entirely as explained previously. It needs to be prescribed more carefully. The last point on Clause 13 in the Regulatory Impact Statement p.37 is contradictory. It says tenants cannot make a modification " that does not penetrate a surface " yet says tenants can hang hooks nails or screws to hang pictures. These methods all penetrate the wall surface. Do they need to be removed when the tenant leaves? How many holes will be allowed per room?
- Do you agree with the list of alterations where consent may be conditional on having the work carried out by a qualified tradesperson? If not, why?
Not smoke alarms. These should be in specified locations and ideally hard wired with back up batteries and checked annually as they do in Queensland. Persons classified as non competent should also be protected by having a qualified person fit batteries etc to a smoke alarm and have it checked to be working.
- Are there other types of minor alterations that should be prescribed, including measures to further improve accessibility for elderly or disabled tenants?
Changes for the care of the elderly or disabled is appropriate but again where changes are needed of a substantial nature the tenant must disclose this to the landlord or agent ideally before taking out the lease. Changes needed after this must be negotiated. Tenants must also bear the cost of installations and of repair at the end of the tenancy.
- Do you agree with the list of exceptions? If not, why?
- Are there any other situations where clause 17 should not apply?
Changes are needed to this clause in my view as previously outlined.
- Do you have any suggestions on how the wording and layout of the declaration form could be improved?
Other than those mentioned for clarification and reconsideration.
- Should the exemptions provided for in clauses 19-26 continue to apply? If not, why?
- Is the new exemption provided by clause 27 appropriate? If not, why?
- Is the new exemption provided by clauses 28 appropriate? If not, why?
- Is the new exemption provided by clause 29 appropriate? If not, why?
- Is the new exemption provided by clause 30 appropriate? If not, why?
- Is the exemption provided by clause 31 appropriate? If not, why?
- Are the timeframes for making applications to the Tribunal adequate? If not, why?
- Is the jurisdictional limit set for rental bond and other matters adequate? If not, why?
- Are there any unintended consequences in prescribing a cumulative amount where an order is made with respect to both a rental bond and another matter?
- Should an interest rate on rental bonds still be prescribed? Why?
- Are the prescribed savings and transitional provisions appropriate?
- Are any other savings or transitional provisions required?
- Are the changes to penalty amounts in the proposed Regulation appropriate?